Are you living on purpose? Have you identified your special talent and vocation? Do you recognize that you have been given a unique Divine ability to express in this lifetime? If so, are you answering that calling with the way you are living your life? If not, then hopefully the words here will help move you in that direction.
Today, in pursuing this topic, I want to offer a bridge between the words of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and spiritual teacher Ernest Holmes. Then, I want to share some words from my first book Be Yourself which speaks to the importance of living in this manner and offers some guidance on how to achieve it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: Spiritual Laws
I’ve been teaching a class recently where we have been reading and discussing some of Emerson’s essays. It’s been great fun to go back and re-read Emerson and explore his thinking.
This week, I was reading “Spiritual Laws”, originally published in 1841. In it, in my interpretation of his writing, Emerson outlines his “cosmology”. He points us to what he sees as spiritual laws which govern the universe and that how our understanding of them….and use of them…. can benefit our lives.
Spiritual teacher Ernest Holmes wrote of this essay, “Emerson viewed the universe, both visible and invisible, as a spiritual system; the material universe being a counterpart of the spiritual. Man is a part of the spiritual order, so indivisibly united with it that the entire cosmos is or may be reflected in his mind.”
Within this viewpoint, we can see that aspect of the Hermetic teaching of “correspondences” that we discussed recently in regard to the early New Thought book The Kybalion. “As above, so below; as below, so above.” Our universe is this interwoven realm of different expressions….the visible and the invisible….a polarity from one extreme up to the other of the material world, the mental world, the spiritual world. And, we humans are an integral part of all of these realms.
Holmes went on to add, “Emerson believed in a spiritual system transparent through the material, in a soul element running through all nature, in a universe governed by law, in a parallel between physical and spiritual laws and in the interpretation of the spiritual through the physical.”
Critical for humans is to shift our focus away from being hypnotized solely by the material world and recognizing that this “soul element” runs through all that can be experienced. Once we recognize that we are more than these bodies and that there are “spiritual laws” that govern this broader existence, then we can begin to use these laws in co-creation with the Divine of a greater expression of our lives.
One of the ways that we can become aware of this soul element is through becoming aware of the natural “push and pull” of life towards a specific unique purpose for our incarnation here. If we are paying attention, we can see that both our outer and inner lives tend to be directing us towards some interest or ability that is “simply natural” for us. All too often we deny this nudging but our lives tend to keep at us.
Emerson best expresses his thoughts on this soul ability in the following paragraph:
“Each man has his own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea. This talent and this call depend on his organization, or the mode in which the general soul incarnates itself in him. He inclines to do something which is easy to him, and good when it is done, but which no other man can do. He has no rival. For the more truly he consults his own powers, the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other. His ambition is exactly proportioned to his powers. The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base. Every man has this call of the power to do somewhat unique, and no man has any other call. The pretense that he has another call, a summons by name and personal election and outward “signs that mark him extraordinary, and not in the roll of common men,” is fanaticism, and betrays obtuseness to perceive that there is one mind in all the individuals, and no respect of persons therein.”
Now, of course, this is my thinking on what Emerson is saying. I would remind you that Emerson cautions us in his essay “Self-Reliance” not to simply accept the ideas of others without your own exploration and testing against your own wisdom. Hence, read the essay for yourself and you decide what it means! Here is a link to the text online.
Ernest Holmes: The Divine Urge
I have long known that analyzing complex ideas, integrating them with other ideas and then teaching them is part of my “calling”. I think one of the reasons that re-reading Emerson has been so enjoyable for me is that my life keeps nudging me back to reviewing many of the teachings of New Thought, seeing what they offer me for living this modern life and then synthesizing the concepts for a 21st century audience. Yes, writing this article is part of some internal urge…and it brings me joy.
New Thought’s founder of the philosophy of Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes, wrote that reading Ralph Waldo Emerson to him was like “drinking water”. I take that to mean that it was so natural that he simply absorbed it, was nourished by it and it became a part of him, especially a part of his philosophy.
In the foreword to Dr. Carol Carnes’ recent book Emerson & New Thought – How Emerson’s Essays Influenced the Science of Mind Philosophy it states, “Holmes credits Emerson with giving him the more mystical view of the Divinity within all sentient life, indeed all life, dispelling the earlier metaphysical notion that Spirit and matter were separate.”
In her description of the essay “Spiritual Laws”, Carnes states, “The whole of New Thought is not about why things happen to us (as in why do good things happen to bad people and vice versa) but how does any thing come to be? How does an idea become a thing? How does invisible sound become music? How does the not yet known become the known?”
The answer she suggests is through our exploration of spiritual laws. She adds, “Emerson and Holmes believed in Spiritual Laws whether we know about them or not.”
Fortunately, we were blessed with some of Holmes’ thinking on this topic in regard to Emerson. In handwritten documents which are thought to have been created in the early 1920s, Holmes gave his take on two of Emerson’s essays – “History” and “Spiritual Laws”. These writings offer general comments on each essay and then a paragraph-by-paragraph summary of what he believes Emerson is saying.
Both of these documents were transcribed and made available to those interested in Science of Mind (along with another document) under the name “The Philosophy of Emerson and Finding The Real Christ”. One can access a copy of the document for a nominal cost here through the Science of Mind Archives.
Here is what Holmes wrote about the paragraph of Emerson’s that we quoted above:
“The incarnation of the Universal in the individual is the mainspring of Emerson’s thought. Each is an individualized center of God-conscious life and divine action. Each is a unique individualization. When man obeys the dictates of the inner voice, he finds every pathway open before him. “He has no rival.” The “general soul incarnates itself in him.” Through him, the unity of this general soul passes into unique variations of itself. No two people are alike. The more we study our own individuality and seek to build a superstructure upon the foundations of our own thought and endeavor, the more power we have. “The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base.” To believe that anything less than this divine calling is worthy, is to fall under the illusion of a separation from the whole, and to deny the realization “that there is one mind in all the individuals.””
There are a couple of key points I want to stress from Holmes. First, although everything is “One” (“the unity of this general soul”), we are each unique and special expressions of the “One” (“each is a unique individualization”). Secondly, the listening to our unique calling can bring an ease and flow to our lives (when obeying “the dictates of the inner voice” leads to “every pathway open before him”).
Holmes frequently wrote about this aspect of the spiritual laws whereby we are encouraged by Spirit to live our purpose. He called this push and pull we feel a “Divine Urge”. He mentions is in relation to our true-life purpose. Here is one useful quote from him:
“Everyone of us has the potential of the Universe behind us. There is an irresistible potential pressing against everyone for self-expression. If we listen we shall hear it, not as a voice, but as a feeling, as a Divine urge to express. If we believe in it, it shall manifest through us, and if we keep our consciousness active and alive to it, the volume that flows through us by our consent will necessarily increase.”
If we are honest with ourselves, we all know this “urge”. We know the feeling that there is something that is ours to do. We know that life keeps moving us towards it, even when we resist. In fact, this feeling was a key aspect of a book that I published back in 2012.
When I first wrote Be Yourself – Evolving the World Through Personal Empowerment, I would get asked what it was about. Here was my “elevator speech” summary:
It’s about recognizing that the world is at a critical choice point as evidenced by the many crises and challenges we are experiencing.
Our choice is about either continuing to create more challenges for humanity (continuing in the direction we appear to be headed) or to shift into our working towards creating the better world that we all know is possible.
Assuming the reader desired to move towards that greater world that works for everyone, I offered three suggestions for moving towards that greater world.
First, we must shift our focus away from our differences with one another to how we are alike. The basic idea here being our using the Law of Attraction to create more unity by focusing on our unity.
Secondly, we must begin to focus on a common vision for humanity’s future. Here again we use the Law of Attraction by our bringing our thoughts, words and deeds to be directed towards our shared common characteristics of a world that meets the needs of everyone; using the power of a compelling vision.
Finally, I encouraged each of us to “be yourself”. What did I mean by that? Well, that’s where we come back to using that spiritual law that Emerson described and recognizing the Divine Urge that Holmes discussed.
Here are some quotes from the book to hopefully make the connection:
“As I see it, being yourself means that you answer the call to live your life purpose. Being yourself means living the life you were placed on Earth to live. It means recognizing the unique gifts you have to give to the world, and then moving forward to express them regardless of the barriers you meet.
My life experience has led me to realize that all of us are here for some special reason. We are here to move through life experiences, good and bad, to learn lessons and to develop and grow. We are here to evolve, to gain new perspectives, and to see greater meaning. As a part of this developmental process, I believe strongly that each person was given a unique task to perform during this lifetime. This task involves learning and expressing some distinctive ability. The special capacity may be similar to that of some other humans, but your special way of showing up in life and utilizing this ability is subtly different from any one else’s.
This calling, ability, or talent can be seen in general as either very rare or very common. People tend to place value judgments upon them. It’s easy to spot the rare talents. With artists and musicians, writers, high-performing athletes, and others that are called to the spotlight and honored for their celebrity, it’s easy to see that they are expressing themselves and living their calling. It may not be so easy to spot others who are doing the same, outside the glare of celebrity. You may be called to be yourself by way of being a parent, working in a store, digging ditches, gardening or farming, sewing clothes, programming computers, or a myriad of other endeavors. Being yourself is not about being rich or famous. Being yourself is about identifying your true talent and then living your life expressing that talent – no matter what it is.
Doing this has a number of advantages: Your life is more joyful. Events flow in a more synchronistic manner, with things lining up for you in just the right way at just the right time. Work truly becomes, as Kahlil Gibran called it, “love in action” – something that fills your life with pleasure. You shift your focus from believing you lack something to knowing you have everything you need.
In addition, an extremely beneficial aspect of being yourself, of living your life’s calling, is that you let go of feeling that you are in competition with others and move to a place of wanting to cooperate with them. You shift to the motivation of being in service to humanity. Humanity’s challenges could be easily overcome if all of us truly became ourselves.
The truth is, each of us has a purpose for being here – we all have a special talent or ability, and life will conspire to make sure we use it. One of the areas I described that we all have in common is our desire to make a difference. We all have a calling.”
Now, from here the book goes on such that much of the last part of it is about “finding your calling” and implementing it more fully into your life. There were a number of exercises to assist in your gaining clarity on your purpose and anchoring your life actions in that direction. If that sounds of use to you, please check it out. Here’s a link to the book.
Let’s move back from the book plug and into a summary of this article. Let me take a moment to briefly summarize the key points:
Emerson and Holmes want us to know that we live in a spiritual system that incorporates all of the realms of expression—the world of form, Mind and Spirit.
This spiritual system operates under certain “laws” which if we can learn to use, then we can enhance our lives.
Although both Emerson and Holmes believed that there were numerous spiritual laws under which the universe acted, this article focused only on one.
The example used was to show a spiritual law at work was the consideration of how our personal unique expression of the One is imbedded by Spirit with a special talent or calling that urges us to express it during this incarnation.
Although we can deny our calling, after all we have free will choice, this is not the best path for us.
If we are so bold as to take the steps to identify our life purpose and to begin living in alignment with that purpose, we will find that our lives will open up to us. Barriers will disappear. We will be in the flow. Spirit’s purpose for us will be fulfilled. And, maybe, just maybe, our living on purpose, our “being ourselves” will work to create a better world.